From “definitely not” interested in footy; Woods eyes off an AFLW career

FROM never intending to play football at all let alone at the highest level, Eastern Ranges co-captain Emerson Woods has certainly changed her tune of the past couple of years, going from strength to strength. Unlike many of her contemporaries, Woods found her love for the game after a while and now her sights are firmly set on achieving the AFL Women’s dream.

“No definitely not (always wanting to play Australian rules),” Woods said. “I didn’t really have any intentions of playing footy at all, it’s probably I didn’t really think about it playing it at Mount Evelyn. “But as soon as I got up in the ranks and playing at Eastern Ranges I thought it could be something to work towards.”

Having started out at Mount Evelyn and playing there a couple of seasons, Woods was just enjoying getting used to the sport, then things ramped up.

“Obviously I wasn’t expecting much from just playing local,” Woods said. “Obviously i was just there for a bit of fun but everything came on top of each other. “Eastern Ranges and Vic and everything. “It was pretty full on and pretty fun.”

Woods represented Vic Metro at the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships, something she has cherished having played alongside so many talented players.

“It’s been really good obviously getting to know the girls and getting to play against them,” she said. “They are some of the best talent in the state, it’s been amazing playing with them.”

Woods said her athletic ability – her endurance, speed and agility – have helped her adapt faster to the increasing pace of the game. She also identifies her kicking and fundamental skills as the biggest focus for her improvement. The midfielder-forward has embraced everything that football has given to her and she now feels involved in the community as well as the club.

“The community, the club, everyone’s super nice,” she said. “You can really get to know heaps of people, it’s not just about the sport, it’s about the community around you and the people you get to know as well.”

Representing the AFL Women’s Academy against the Geelong Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s side at GMHBA Stadium was a surreal experience, much like her call-up to Hawthorn’s VFL Women’s team.

“It’s (Hawthorn call-up) pretty amazing,” Woods said. “It feels a bit surreal, but I’m really excited to get out there with them. “It was a really good experience, obviously first time playing against women, great to get to know the feel of the bodies and what I have to come up against in the future playing at Hawthorn.”

Her workload has also been a challenge, juggling between school and football, at one stage having five SACs in the week following Vic Metro training on the Sunday. Woods is also still unsure of a career path just yet, purely focusing on getting through her final year of schooling.

But has the player who had no interest in playing football at the highest level changed her mind?

“Yeah definitely,” she said. “I’m working towards it (being drafted), it’s a long road ahead still but I think there’s a lot of opportunities out there for me.”

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